Sites & Exhibits

Mabee Farm Historic Site

13559112_10153783887383099_7527720131144442144_oThe oldest farm in the Mohawk Valley (1705), Mabee Farm Historic Site offers visitors today vibrant educational and recreational opportunities. With its deep history and riverside beauty, it’s the perfect place to explore Mohawk Valley heritage.

Walk across weathered pine floors in the home of settlers Jan and Annetje. Say hello to our resident farm animals. Ogle the hand-pegged Dutch Barn (1760s) or just meander through our orchards, gardens, and forest trails. Tied to the dock or parked behind the Dutch Barn sit our reproduction 18th century bateaux, the De Sagar and the Bobbie G, giving visitors an idea of how goods were shipped up and down the river.

Mabee Farm is also home year-round to interactive exhibitions, lecture series, workshops, and school programs plus extensive historical and archaeological collections.

Museum & Library

Nestled in the heart of Schenectady’s Stockade Historic District (described by the National Park Service as “the highest concentration of historic period homes in the country”) is the Schenectady History Museum and the Grems-Doolittle Library.

Join us throughout the year to take a walking tour of the Stockade and beyond. Or, come in to meet a renowned speaker and check out our interactive exhibits that tell the stories of Schenectady.

The Museum is the perfect starting point for discovering the history of Schenectady County. Through programs and interactive exhibits, visitors can explore how Schenectady County has changed over the years.

Adjacent to the Schenectady History Museum is the Grems-Doolittle Library, the perfect spot for researching Schenectady history!

The Brouwer House

One of Schenectady’s oldest homes, the Brouwer House is a vibrant centerpiece of Schenectady city culture, filled with authentic character. The 1730s home is the only colonial-era Schenectady house open to the public, and possesses evocative, walled gardens.

The Brouwer House is open by appointment, and occasionally for special events. The property can also be rented for receptions, weddings, and garden parties.

Current Exhibits:

Back in my Day: Childhood, Play, and Schenectady
Opening Reception Jan 19, 2pm @ 32 Washington Ave
Are play and childhood toys a reflection of larger social, cultural, and technological developments? This exhibition examines that question, focusing primarily on cultural and social influences on childhood in the 20th & 21st century. The exhibit also integrates personal childhood experiences and memories from members of our community.

A Dishonorable Trade: Human Trafficking in the Dutch Atlantic World
Opening Reception Jan 26, 2pm @ Mabee Farm
A traveling exhibit curated by NYS Department of Parks and Recreation. Divided into two parts, the exhibit examines the role that slavery played in the creation and maintenance of the Dutch trading empire, and delves into the lives and stories of the people affected by the trade. Part of the “A Dishonorable Trade” exhibition & lecture series, exploring slavery in NYS.

Ongoing Exhibitions:

Beyond the Pines: Early Schenectady
Ongoing at the Schenectady History Museum
Explore early Schenectady: its founding, its people, and what life was like for early Schenectadians. This exhibition features the recently restored Painting of a Boy, one of the most significant portraits in our collection.

Changing Downtown
Ongoing at the Schenectady History Museum
At the heart of a successful downtown are interesting stories and unique buildings that illustrate a city’s distinct character. Changing Downtown traces Schenectady’s stories and buildings through the years, exploring the city’s legacy of transformation and innovation. By discovering the forces that shaped downtown Schenectady, we can better understand ourselves, and our vision for the future.

Boomtown: Immigration, Technology, and Urban Schenectady
Ongoing at the Schenectady History Museum
In this interactive exhibit, leave your mark on our map, find your favorite hat style, dance to music from different eras, and imagine what it would be like to emigrate today. Discover why people immigrate, and immigration’s impact on Schenectady’s urban and cultural landscapes.

Medicine on the Mohawk: featuring the collection of Dr. Spring
Ongoing at the Schenectady History Museum
For centuries, reliable cures were difficult to find. Schenectady – like every village and city – faced waves of deadly disease. Smallpox in the 1700s. Cholera and Typhoid in the 1800s. Spanish Flu in the 1900s. Yet, for nearly as long as Schenectadians have fought illness, doctors and nurses have been here healing. The tools doctors use have changed, as you’ll discover in Medicine on the Mohawk. But the goal remains the same: work together and tirelessly to make us healthy.

Setting Schenectady’s Table
Ongoing at the Schenectady History Museum
Our ceramics collection illustrates the changing nature of trade, food, and hospitality in Schenectady’s history.  Though techniques and styles evolved through the years, these ceramics evoke a sentiment we feel today. The pleasure of good food and drink, shared with great company.

1834 Yates Dollhouse
at the Schenectady History Museum
The second oldest dollhouse in America has spent it’s whole life in the Stockade! With original early-1800s furnishings and a painful history, it is one of SCHS’s most evocative pieces!


Past Exhibitions

Past Exhibits:

In Harm’s Way: Community Responses to Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee
(2017 – 2018)
A partnership with the New York Folklore Society, this timely exhibition explores local responses to hurricanes, the devastating impact natural disasters have on communities, and the resiliency of our neighbors.

An Intimate View of Mushrooms: a photography exhibition by Beth Harris  (August  – November 2018)
Creating intimate experiences through her photography, Beth Harris takes a look at the largest living organism in the world: fungus. The reproductive structure of the fungus, a mushroom’s DNA is more closely related to humans than plants. Captured in their natural environment and in a studio setting, Harris’ lens focuses on the detailed features of each mushroom, creating a poetic mood and atmosphere. Neither plant nor animal, mushrooms are truly unique.

Together Until the End: Schenectady in World War I (January – November 2017)
Devastating, morbid, and totally unprecedented, World War I changed our world entirely and redefined modernity. Now, 100 years later, we’re exploring the Great War’s effect on Schenectady and the people who lived here. The soldiers who fought, the nurses who cared, and everyone at home whose world was reshaped, completely.
Four by Four (May – October, 2017)
The creative vision of four artists (Deborah Angilletta, John Morrette, Tim Prendergast and Maureen Sausa) comes through in four sets of four paintings, each based on a photograph. The resulting exhibition of watercolor, oil and acrylic landscape paintings showcases each artist’s individuality in using an ordinary photograph as the point of departure for their work, changing the images and making them uniquely their own.

Changing Waters: The Story of the Mohawk River (October 2016 – May 2017)
How has the river that stretches from one end of our county to the other changed our lives, and how have we influenced the river over the centuries? You might be surprised to find out just how big of an impact it has on your life! This winter, explore our bateaux up close and inside, and take a journey through the times and tides of the Mohawk River.

Vote Here! Vote Now! (March – November 2016)
Left or right? Conservative, liberal, or independent? “Vote Here! Vote Now!” explores democracy in Schenectady, and encourages visitors to consider and discuss political issues – historical and current. Discover Schenectady’s political legacy by talking, touching, listening, feeling — and learning learn how vital your voice is in the 2016 elections! Vote Here! Vote Now! is part of the VHVN! project, supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities.

Hops & Hogsheads: Beer from Colonial to Craft Brew (2015 – 2016)
Explore the impact of beer on the region’s early Dutch Settlers, winding through history to today’s two Schenectady County breweries. From the moment beer first entered New York in 1609 aboard Henry Hudson’s Haelve Maen, it has shaped our history, our laws, and our culture. Visit the Schenectady History Museum today to learn just how beer has changed your life!

In Whom We Trust: at the Crossroads of Faith & Community (July – October, 2016; now on display at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady)
Through photography by Michael Diana and oral histories, this project explores the religious diversity that enriches Schenectady County and the underlying humanity that unites us all.
In Whom We Trust is supported by a grant from the New York Council on the Arts.

The Schenectady Municipal Golf Course 1935-2015: Eighty Years and Counting (2016)
This exhibit tells the story of “Muni,” one of the many construction projects during the Great Depression that gave work to men who had no other opportunities. Nearly 1,400 people put hard work into this golf course which stands today as a testament to triumphing over this difficult time in American history.

Journeys: Postcards of Migration (March – July 2016)
A selection of postcards showcase movement and migration in Schenectady. Humans move across the county, on foot and by railroads, canals and more. Migrating birds face challenges – and put on a show! — each year as they return to Schenectady County from their wintering grounds. And, plants are on the move too, sprouting up across our gardens and forests! Movement and migration shape the world around us. Let’s celebrate it through the lens of our postcard collection!

A Night on the Town in Schenectady 1850-1950: One Hundred Years of Fashion & Frivolity (June 2015 – March 2016)
From the Victorian Age through World War II, Schenectady was the place to be. Socialites wearing the latest fashions frequented hotels, theaters, and restaurants downtown like the Edison Hotel and the Van Curler Opera House. From Civil War era ballgowns to flapper dresses, this exhibit showcases trendy evening gowns and explores one hundred years of Schenectady fashion and nightlife.

Enigmatic Shapes by Todd J. Grieve (December 2015 – March 2016)
Todd’s sculpture walks the line of ambiguity. Intriguing shapes and forms combine with the viewer’s imagination to create individual experiences.

#schenectadydoesntsuck (September – December 2015)
The #schenectadydoesntsuck exhibit at Mabee Farm examines Schenectady through the lens of social media. It highlights the @schenectadydoesntsuck account’s best-loved images: Local landmarks. Stunning sunsets. Streets. Trees. Neighbors. Love. It celebrates Schenectady, and the people who call this place home. Schenectady may not be perfect, but at its core, #schenectadydoesntsuck.

It Came from Schenectady: Science Fiction in the Capital Region (March – September 2015)
What if you had a superpower? What if you could travel through time? What if machines overtook Schenectady? “What if” questions inspire writers, artists, and filmmakers to create new worlds and imagine alternate realities. Featuring an Apollo EMU spacesuit (and a replica you can try on!), experimental equipment and machinery from GE, original science fiction cover art, hand-made costumes, an interactive studio set, film footage, and more, It Came from Schenectady: Science Fiction in the Capital Region invites you to discover the “what ifs” that inspired the creations of local science fiction innovators, including Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Nelson, and Glendora. Join us on a journey through time and space as we explore the legacy of science fiction in Schenectady County!

Unlocked: Discovering the Erie Canal in Schenectady (July 2015 – September 2015) 
Once America’s great route west, the Erie Canal today is a place of recreation, exploration, and sometimes neglect. Through photographs by enthusiasts Michael Diana, Lou Restifo, and Mary Zawacki, “unLocked” captures the mystery and beauty of the Erie Canal in Schenectady.

Witness to Assassination: President Lincoln’s Death and the Schenectady Connection (April 2015 – July 2015)
A bandage, soaked in President Lincoln’s blood. Ink blots in the diary of Union Army soldier and Schenectadian Charles Lewis, telling of the fatal moment at Ford’s Theatre. These and other artifacts capture the shock and sadness of America in April 1865, and reveal Schenectady’s connection to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

Visualizing the Lexicon of a Loving Hand: Works by Brennan Goodwin & Jackie Zysk (May 2015 – July 2015)
Artists and University at Albany – SUNY graduate students Brennan Goodwin and Jackie Zysk explore nostalgia and childhood in their exhibition “Visualizing the Lexicon of a Loving Hand” on display at Mabee Farm Historic Site.

Second Look: Oil Paintings by Lisa David (February 2015 – May 2015)
What many of us pass by in our daily lives, Lisa David paints with her brush. Second Look: Paintings by Lisa David features scenes David deems worthy of a “second look.” Inspired by what others neglect to see, David captures the essence of a moment by focusing on subtle differences in light.

Where Do You Come From? (November 2014 – February 2015)
Celebrate the diverse history of Schenectady County through the artwork and family photographs of local artists and community members! The exhibit, on display at the Mabee Farm Historic Site through February, highlights the stories of our community through photographs, collages, sculptures, and more.
Where Do You Come From? is part of the Exploring Schenectady County’s Immigrant Past project, supported by grants from the New York Council for the Humanities and the Schenectady County Initiative Program.

Where Fires Once Burned: The Photography of Michael Diana (August – November 2014)
Sunlight streams through broken glass and shattered roofs to illuminate behemoth machines and labyrinths of rusted piping. Spaces that once roared with activity now echo, empty and forgotten. Michael Diana’s photography documents the silent, forgotten factories of the region, placing them into historical and artistic context. For, like a Shakespearean tragedy, there is a certain beauty to these grand ruins.

Canals and Railroads: Collaboration and Competition (June – November 2014)
A traveling exhibit developed by the Alco Historical and Technical Society, Canals and Railroads: Collaboration and Competition explores the beginnings of the Canal Era and New York State’s early railroads, which were built to enhance and complement— rather than compete with— the waterway system.

The Story of Shoes (April – October 2014)
A farmer pulls on his wooden clogs to head out into his field, a bride steps into a pair of satin heels on her wedding day, a businessperson laces up their shoes before going to work. What we put on our feet varies based on age, activity, and event. Shoes tell the people around us our occupations, our fashion sense, or our status in society. Whether they lace, tie, or Velcro, each one of them has a story hidden in their sole. If your shoes could speak, what would they say?

Nostalgia- Artwork by Irma Mastrean (May – August  2014)
Irma Mastrean’s paintings evoke a sense of longing for times forgotten, while still leaving viewers with hope for the future. An empty house ponders its last occupants while waiting for a new family. The last snow of the season falls, yet begins to offer a glimpse of spring. Mastrean frequently visits this theme in her paintings, which include a number of local scenes. Anyone who knows the area will recognize homes, barns, and buildings, some of which no longer stand today. 

Visions of the Past: Artwork by Jennifer Richard-Morrow (January – April 2014)
Art exhibit highlighting the work of local artist Jennifer Richard-Morrow’s captivating images from around the Mohawk Valley, past and present.

Swept Away: The History and Culture of Brooms (October 2013 – March 2014)
A broom is one of the of the most common household objects, always on hand when dirt or dust needs to be swept off of the floor. How did brooms come to America and how were they traditionally made? The new broommaking exhibit at the Franchere Education Center introduces visitors to the history behind the broomcorn broom, its importance in the Mohawk Valley, and its westward sweep across the nation.

Building on the Farm: A Legacy of Architecture at the Mabee Farm (March – October 2013)
From the stone house to the inn, from the brick house to the barn, the Mabee Farm is home to a number of interesting architectural gems. The exhibit focuses on the unique architectural aspects of the current buildings on site and tells the story of the evolution of the buildings at the Mabee Farm.

The Art of Karen Cummings (September – October 2013)
A display of the work of this local artist, featuring local landscapes, animal portraits, house portraits, and still-life paintings.

Inspiration from the Past: The Art of James Whitbeck (February – March 2013)
Take a trip back in time and view artwork inspired by the Dutch Masters of the 16th and 17th century. Whitbeck’s art is created with the earliest oil techniques that were used in the Netherlands in the production of a still life. This style culminates in producing vibrant colors and effects, giving the final product a detailed, realistic feeling.

Freedom: A History of Us (January 2013)
Explore how slavery in America developed into an institution, and how it came to be condemned as it divided the nation during the Civil War. There is an early fragment of Abraham Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech, letters by abolitionists and slaves, and personal letters from soldiers who fought in the Civil War. Opened on the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the exhibit highlights the role slavery played in the United States, in New York State, and here at Mabee Farm.